Wednesday, December 25, 2013

sigh no more

"Love; it will not betray you
dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
be more like the man you were made to be."
(Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More, 2009)
rereading past Christmas posts, here's a gem from Fr. Michael Newman, a fellow classmate:
"today we celebrate Christmas – the feast on which God in Jesus becomes one of us to set us free from all that chains and enslaves us and through his life and example to show us how to live as sons + daugthers of God in the world. in his Christmas homily in 1620 St. Francis de Sales spoke of Jesus as 'Love coming into the world to set us free.' this Love frees us from our past and leads us into the future of 2014. or, as stated in the song, this divine Love 'will not betray you, dismay or enslave you; it will set you free. be more like the man you were meant to be.'"
Merry Christmas!  Joyeux Noël!  union de prière.


ps.  the video:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

listen to your heart

"listen to your heart
when He's calling for you.
listen to your heart
there's nothing else you can do.
i don't know where you're going
and i don't know why,
but listen to your heart
before you tell Him goodbye."
(Roxette - Listen to Your Heart, 1989)
holy hashtag batman!  how can i not have quoted Roxette until now!  shame on me!  i love this song.  and, you should too!  :)

we are almost in the Fourth Week of Advent, and most people continue to echo the same things:  i am not ready.  i still have this and that to do, must call him and her, visit here, there and everywhere!  i still have homilies to write!
"How frightful it is to be a priest!  How we ought to pity a priest who celebrates the Mass as though it were a routine event!  How wretched it is to be a priest without any interior life."  (St. John Vianney)
indeed, let us continue to pray for our brothers and sisters looking for the true meaning of Christmas, that they may find Him.  and, that those who have found, may continue to search for Him.  each and every vocation should lead the other more closerly towards God in Our Lord Christ.  let's prepare our hearts together, so as not forget why and who we are celebrating on the 25 of December.
"Noise is a great obstacle to hearing Jesus, who is meek and humble of heart.  Finding time every day for silent prayer, silent listening, is critical.  Jesus' desire to tell us our vocation is much greater than our desire to know it, but we must be willing and able to hear it.  We must show the Lord through our fidelity to prayer that we desire to know his perfect will regarding our vocations." (Fr. Brannen, 2012)
however, it is hard to find that silence during each and every day, when everyone around seems to be bringing the noise (à la Public Enemy + Anthrax, yea boi!).  i remember what we read at this time last year regarding the search for balance.  here's the article from Stéphane Laporte in La Presse!  enjoy:
Q? Quel sens donnons-nous à nos actions du temps des Fêtes
Les vitrines des magasins sont toutes décorées, cadeaux qu'il nous faut acheter, cartes … , partés, décorer le sapin, recevoir toute la famille qu'il nous faut recevoir! 
Et durant ce tourbillon de figures imposées qu'on appelle le temps des Fêtes, jamais on ne prendra le temps de se demander: pourquoi on fait tout ça? On ne se pose tellement pas de question, on est tellement dressés, on est tellement programmés qu'on ne sait même plus ce que l'on fête. Pas grave... Le pape du Vatican nous dit que l'on fête Noël. Le pape de Hawkesbury nous dit que l'on fête décembre. Alors, on fête... Même si on en n'a pas vraiment envie. Les gens embarquent dans le traîneau du temps des Fêtes, en n'ayant hâte que d'une chose: que la promenade finisse au plus vite (encore des cadeaux, cartes...). Pourtant, ils vont décorer leur maison, ils vont acheter des cadeaux à tout le monde, ils vont sortir, ils vont recevoir, ils vont s'étamper un sourire dans la face mais sans que cela ne leur procure le moindre bonheur. Le temps des Fêtes est une tâche. Un mal nécessaire. Comme le dentiste et l'impôt. C'est pas joyeux Noël, ni joyeux décembre. C'est coûteux Noël, coûteux décembre. 
Il y a dans toute cette abondance de lumières, de bébelles et de bouffe, un grand absent: le sens. Quel sens donnons-nous à nos actions du temps des Fêtes? Euh... J'sais pas... Et vous? C'est plate, si on pouvait l'acheter au magasin, le sens, ce serait fait. On pourrait le cocher sur notre liste. On a trouvé un sens. Next! Mais trouver un sens, ce n'est pas aussi simple que de trouver un centre de table. C'est pour ça qu'on est si nostalgiques des Noëls de notre enfance. Des Noëls blancs, des Noëls purs. Tout avait un sens. On fêtait le petit Jésus né dans une étable, à minuit, la nuit de Noël. On avait tous une crèche dans la tête. Et on voyait la scène comme si les caméras de CNN avaient été là. Le petit bébé dans la paille, sa maman vierge qui le contemple, le père bienveillant qui les surveille, l'haleine du boeuf, de l'âne et de l'agneau qui les réchauffe et l'étoile qui brille tout en haut servant de GPS aux rois mages qui accourent porter des cadeaux. 
Et il était né pourquoi, le petit Jésus? Pour sauver le monde. Ça, c'était du sens! Fêter Noël, c'était fêter notre Sauveur. Méchante bonne raison de décorer et de faire cuire la dinde. Un sauveur, ça ne naît pas tous les jours. Bon d'accord, il ne nous avait pas sauvés au complet encore mais il était censé revenir finir la job. Alors, ... Q? Quel sens donnons-nous à nos actions du temps des Fêtes?
bonne marche d'Avent, en avant!  united in prayer.  peace.

ps:  for more on discerning the diocesan priesthood, please visit the older posts under priesthood.

pss:  the video:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

time to say goodbye

Paroisse Très-Sainte-Trinité, 2013
Rockland, On
"when you were so far away
i sit alone and dream of the horizon
then i know that you are here with me, with me
building bridges over land and sea
shine a blinding light for you and me
to see, for us to be."
(Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman - Time To Say Goodbye, 1996)
ouch!  this doesn't get any easier.  i am moving at the start of January.  yep, in 3 weeks i will be in a new parish, in Rockland.  that is the journey of a diocesan priest.

transitions are never easy, and should never be underestimated.  i am experiencing once again similar feelings to those times when God calls.  He says, "Go!", and i say, "no?"  of course, we are all afraid when He calls, when He expects something from us!  because, in our freedom, we can actually say, "no!"  we are invited on this journey of faith, to imitate Our Lady, and so many more - then, present, future - that say, "Yes!" to God with an undivided heart!  trust in God, always!  i continue to say Yes! to Him, and to love His People.  and so, when my spiritual father, ABp Prendergast, invited me to be the adminstrator for the next few months, i said yes!

Paroisse St-Pierre-Apôtre, 2013
Hawkesbury, On
my new parish as of January 6th, 2014:  Paroisse Très-Sainte-Trinité à Rockland, Ontario (or see - EN, FR).  i feel joy, at the invitation to know and love my new family;  sadness at saying goodbye to my other family at Paroisse St-Pierre-Apôtre.  i have come to know a few well, and was beginning to take steps to know others better.  finally, maybe some fear + trembling?  entering into the unknown, it is natural to feel afraid.  however, "do not be afraid" is the chorus of the angels and Our Lord to his disciples.  among everything that is happening, i feel at peace, in Him!  i know the joy of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ, and He helps me on my path, my journey.  i know He takes care of me, and i know my new family will too!

i often hear the expression, "time heals all wounds".  ah, um, how do you say, "WRONG!" (side tangent:  i'm taken back to the early '90s, and Dana Carvey yelling "wrong" at everybody (à la The McLaughlin Group)!  remember?  it is genius!  eh?)  anywho, time does not heal all wounds.  God does!  it is God in Our Lord Jesus Christ who heals us in His Word and Sacraments.  i look forward in sharing my faith in Rockland!

et deux, trois p'tit mots pour ma nouvelle communauté, ma nouvelle Famille à Rockland, je repête ce que j'ai dit ça fait deux ans et demi:
j'ai hâte a vous connaitre/aimer, et de me laisser connaitre/aimer par vous, sur ce chemin vers Dieu en Jésus! comme le Curé d'Ars, je dis, "vous m'avez montrez le chemin pour Rockland, je vous montrerai le chemin du Ciel." (moi, 2011)
of course, it is never time to say goodbye!  i am still in the diocese, and we will see each other later!  union de prière.  peace.

ps.  the video:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

let's talk about sex

Pope Francis, Person of the Year 2013,
a celibate man!
"yo, i don't think we should talk about this
come on, why not?
people might misunderstand what we're tryin' to say, you know?
no, but that's a part of life!" (Salt 'n' Pepa - Let's Talk About Sex, 1991)
"well, isn't that special" to quote Dana Carvey's character, The Church Lady.  here we are trying to prepare for Christmas, and the culture we live in produces yet another ridiculous article on celibacy.  there are so many good things to read, please don't waste your time on this article from the New York Times.  rather, read Fr. James Martin, s.j.'s reply:
Oh brother. More lazy stereotypes about celibates. Bill Keller’s op-ed today in The New York TimesSex and the Single Priest” (ha ha) says that pretty much all celibate priests are lonely and that celibacy “surely played some role” in the sexual abuse crisis. By his own admission, Mr. Keller hasn’t been an active member of the church since around high school. But that’s not the problem with his piece: former Catholics have written perceptively about the church. The problem is that Keller’s article is based largely on the opinions of two priests who left the priesthood and a sister who left her order, and his own speculation about what the celibate life must be like. That’s like writing a piece on marriage and speaking only to divorced men and women. “Yeah,” some of them might say, “married life stinks.” 
Maybe it would have been helpful to look at some actual data. Sure, there is some loneliness in the priesthood--and there are problems in married life too. But the picture that Mr. Keller paints is ridiculous. 
Ironically, Mr. Keller likes Pope Francis a great deal and speaks of his overall approach to the church approvingly. But he somehow missed the fact that Jorge Mario Bergoglio took a vow of chastity when he made his first vows as a Jesuit in 1960, and made a promise of celibacy at his ordination in 1969. In short, he has been living celibately longer than Mr. Keller has been away from the church. Does the Pope strike anyone as a sad and lonely guy?
question? today's question on discernment deals with chastity and celibacy.  how does a man discern the priesthood today knowing that he will be required to make a promise of celibacy?  our culture says it is impossible.  what do you think?

thoughts!  here are comments and concerns i often hear from men discerning a call to follow God in the priesthood:
  • "I can never become a priest because I like girls too much."
  • "I am afraid that I will be lonely and not happy without a wife."
  • "I really struggle with masturbation.  I am not holy enough to become a priest."
  • "I have a history of sexual activity:  I am not a virgin.  Can I still become a priest."
  • "It is not so much giving up sex that worries me, but not having a companion.  I don't know if I can live my life happily without the intimacy of a wife and having my own children."
"Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;  some, because they were made so by others;  some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever an accept this ought to accept it."  (Gospel of Matthew 19:12)
ask most priests about their vocation, their journey, and you can often hear the echo of these questions!  if the world says it is impossible, obviously something happened for them to choose the priesthood!  indeed, God's grace is at work, right here right now!  a good candidate for diocesan priesthood should have a healthy psycho-sexual development and orientation.  Fr. Brannen writes in chapter five, "Signs of a Vocation to the Priesthood":
"A healthy man should have a normal sexual attraction for adult females and this attraction should be under the control of the will.  It is preferable that he have some normal chaste dating experiences, though this is not absolutely required.  A man should not be addicted to pornography, masturbation, or any type of aberrant sexual behaviour.  If he has ever been sexually active with a woman, then he should have a lengthy period of sexual sobriety prior to making application to the seminary.  If a man has had some same-sex attraction, this does not automatically exclude him from becoming a priest.  However, because same-sex attraction is a disordered attraction, a more careful analysis of this man's pyschosexual development and identity is indicated.  In general, a good candidate will have shown evidence of his capacity to live a chaste, celibate life."
this could be part one of many, on this particular topic.  however, let's conclude with St. Augustine, who himself said, "Lord, give me chastity, but not yet!"  He is a good patron saint for any man discerning the priesthood, and woman discerning her vocation!
"Long-practiced chastity is comparable to virginity." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II, II, 152)

ps:  every Thursday i will reflect on a certain area of discernment.  if you have a particular question, please let me know via Twitter, Facebook, or email!  for more on discerning the diocesan priesthood, please visit the older posts under priesthood.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


The Matrix, 1999
Trinity to Neo:  "You've been down there, Neo.
You already know that road.
You know exactly where it ends.
And I know that's not where you want to be."
"i've been walking the streets at night
just trying to get it right
it's hard to see with so many around
you know, i don't like being stuck in the crowd
and the streets don't change but, the names
i ain't got time for the game
'cause i need You
yeah, but i need You (all it takes is patience, yeah)
oh, i need You (just a little patience)"
(Guns 'N Roses - Patience, 1989)
another post on vocations!  but first, if you have a few minutes, watch the video.  Axl is searching for something.  he sings about walking the streets at night, and in one scene he stays up late watching the tube.  he is searching for something, for someone!

my new project is that every Thursday for the next few months, or longer, i will post something relating to the discernment process for men being call to the diocesan priesthood.  of course, some, many of these questions + answers, can easily apply to all who are discerning their vocation in life.  what is the will of the Father for me?  how do i listen to Him?  watching the video today hit me since i too remember walking the streets late at night searching for something.  only years later did i realize i was searching for Someone.  yesterday people stayed up late watching TV searching for something greater.  today people stay up late watching YouTube searching for something greater.  everything has changed.  nothing has changed.  there is nothing new under the sun.  we are all searching, when do we realize we are searching for Him?

onto my new idea.  a couple weeks ago i had two conferences back to back - Annual Diocesan Priesthood Vocations Conference, here in Ottawa, followed by the "Baby Priest" Conference, held every three years for those newly ordained, from 0 - 6 years, at Mt. Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls.  at both conferences i received the same book:  To Save A Thousand Souls:  A guide for discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood.  they were generously donated by Vianney Vocations.  i was also joyful to see recently that Fr. Hezuk, vocations director, reviewed this book in the most recent Catholic Ottawa, Archdiocesan quarterly letter.
"the problem is not a crisis in vocations, but a crisis of prayer."
are more and more men discerning the priesthood today?  i believe it is the same as always. although it seems that less of them are hearing the call because of this, that, and the other thing.  this is a resource book for those men discerning the diocesan priesthood.

i have been hearing for many years now that every young Catholic man should discern the priesthood.  is this true?  i am not sure.  i would rather say:  every man (and woman) should discern God's will in their lives.  "not my will, but Your will be done!"  on this journey of discovering one's vocation, we all need help, and patience!  in fact, doing anything else than God's will in your life will bore you.

i found a video by EWTN interviewing Fr. Brannen, author of the book.  he describes the book as a single resource, a guide for discerning a vocation to Diocesan Priesthood.  he highlights some of the questions, and the journey involved from hearing the call, to entering the seminary, to ordination.  the video is a good starting point to understanding the steps that each man will go through once he discerns this vocation.  he adds that this book is not just for young men, but anyone really who is discerning.  (do i have a vocation?)  what is God's will in my life?  this book helps us listen to Him, to do the will of the Father in our lives.

as Axl reminds us, "i need You."  we all need God in our lives.  we all need help on this journey of holiness.  if you have questions, comments, regarding the discernment process please do not hesitate in contacting your vocations director!  either call:  myself, Fr. Hezuk, or Mgr Daniel Berniquez, now!  also, send in your suggestions, and i'll do what i can to cover the topic.

union de prière.  united in prayer.


ps:  Fr. Brannen's interview on the book with EWTN:

and, Neo takes the road less travelled by:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

it's my party

Grumpy Cat aka Tardar Sauce, 2013
"it's my party, and i'll cry if i want to
cry if i want to, cry if i want to
you would cry too if it happened to you."
(Lesley Gore - It's My Party, 1963)
one year ago it was my birthday.  i guess, today would be ... indeed, it's my party, and i'll cry if i want to, cry if i want to, cry if i want to!  you would cry too if it happen to you - turn 38 that is!  pray for me that i survive! ;)

by the way, apparently this song is becoming quite popular among the kids these days.  just like Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Lesley Gore's song is covered and remixed by Amy Winehouse, Jessie J, Drake, Miley Cyrus, and Icona Pop.  who knew?!  anywho, Lesley sings it best, just as Leanord Cohen did too.

this morning, i'm off to the deaconate ordination of Matthew Chojna, Bryan Kipling Cooper and Douglas Hayman at Divine Infant.  please pray for them!  and later i'm off to a parté of course with family and friends!  there will be no crying, i don't think! :)

thanks again for all your birthday wishes, tweets, emails, phone calls, texts, and cards!  i have you all in my prayers.  God Bless.  peace.

ps.  the video:

Friday, November 29, 2013


"they say it's your birthday
it's my birthday too, yeah
they say it's your birthday
we're gonna have a good time
i'm glad it's your birthday
happy birthday to you"
(Beatles - Birthday, 1968)
i grew up watching Passe Partout (EN, FR).  indeed, so did most of Quebec children at the time (1977 - 1987).  this video seems appropriate today:

by the way, it's my birthday tomorrow!  peace.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

hopelessly devoted to you

Vocations poster, 2013
"my head is saying, 'fool, forget him.'
my heart is saying, 'don't let go.
hold on till the end.'
and that's what i intend to do
i'm hopelessly devoted to you."
(Olivia Newton-John - Hopelessly Devoted to You, 1978)
we often talk about a crisis in vocations.  what exactly are we talking about?  what is a vocation?  how does one discern this?  vocation is many things, including marriage between a man and a woman, conscecrated celibacy + virginity, religious brothers and sisters, and the holy priesthood!  indeed, there is a crisis in vocations today.

à la wikipedia:
"A vocation is an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained, or qualified.  Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity. 
Use of the word "vocation" before the sixteenth century referred firstly to the "call" by God to the individual, or calling of all humankind to salvation and more specifically to the "vocation to the priesthood", which is still the usual sense in Roman Catholicism.  Roman Catholicism recognizes marriage and virginity or celibacy as the two vocations.  Martin Luther, followed by John Calvin, placed a particular emphasis on vocations, or divine callings, as potentially including most secular occupations, though this idea was by no means new."
how about à la Catechism of the Catholic Church (the word vocation occurs 65 times!):
The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God (article 1); it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude (article 2). It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment (article 3). By his deliberate actions (article 4), the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience (article 5). Human beings make their own contribution to their interior growth; they make their whole sentient and spiritual lives into means of this growth (article 6). With the help of grace they grow in virtue (article 7), avoid sin, and if they sin they entrust themselves as did the prodigal son to the mercy of our Father in heaven (article 8). In this way they attain to the perfection of charity. (CCC #1700)
and finally from Grease, we get our answer!  a vocation is:
  • guess mine is not the first heart broken
  • my eyes are not the first to cry
  • i'm not the first to know
  • there's just no gettin' over You
  • i'm just a fool who's willing to sit around and wait for you (à la Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot)
  • but baby can't You see there's nothin' else for me to do
  • i'm hopelessly devoted to You
  • but now there's nowhere to hide
  • hopelessly devoted to You
it seems that regardless of the particular path, all paths, all vocations must be hopelessly devoted to God in Our Lord Jesus Christ!  and this journey must be walked with an undivided heart, until the very end.  of course, one is never qualified to follow God.  rather, God qualifies those whom He calls.  again, à la CCC #1, our vocation is to know and love God.

how do we do that, you ask?  that's where the Church comes in.  that's where your parish comes in!  that's where your brothers and sisters, our family, help in the discernment process!  we cannot do it by ourselves!  i need you to be holy.

the work of vocations is difficult, that is why one needs to pray:
The Harvest Is Great, the Laborers Few 
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:35-38)
i am relieved to know that we are all praying for vocations!  indeed, i cannot do this, one cannot do it all by themselves.  however, the Archdiocese of Ottawa is now in the process of tweaking the Vocations Committee format to help foster vocations to the diocesan priesthood.  Fr. Tim McCauley, who was the Director of Vocations for the diocese for a number of years, is now taking a much needed break.  Temporarily, until things get more official, Fr. Hezuk Shroff, associate pastor of Holy Reedemer, will lead our new team.  i will also help, as his side kick!  i look forward to this new assignment!!!

i will be meeting Fr. Zuk shortly to discuss ideas, looking at the Quo Vadis model, where we gather monthly with men discerning the call to the priesthood, and ?  and what?  that's where you come in!  we are eager to begin, and i welcome all comments, suggestions, critiques, and concerns - either by phone, email, blog, twitter, etc.  keep us posted.

our first task will be to attend the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors taking place next week at St. Theresa's Parish!  i have looked at the schedule and look forward - waiting in joyful hope - in meeting the other Vocation Directors from across the country!  the conference begins Monday night, ends on Thursday.  however, it seems Tuesday will be a big day:
"the conference itself will begin full steam on Tuesday. Fr. Tim Birney, vocation director from the Archdiocese of Detroit, will be our keynote speaker. In the morning he will speak about “Evangelizing the Faithful: Practical Points for Communicating the Joy of the Priesthood” and in the afternoon “Evangelizing the Clergy: Developing A Pastoral Plan for Vocations."
i look forward in working a bit more officially with vocations.  however, just like a new ball cap, things don't quite fit yet.  i have to work it in.  pray for us next week!
A Prayer for Vocations 
Heavenly Father, bless Your Church with an abundance of holy and zealous priests, deacons, brothers and sisters. Give those You have called to the married state and those You have chosen to live as single persons in the world the special graces that their lives require. Form us all in the likeness of Your Son so that in Him, with Him and through Him we may love You more deeply and serve You more faithfully, always and everywhere. With Mary we ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

ps.  the videos, Olivia Newton-John live from Amsterdam, Fishers of Men (Trailer, Part One + Part Two = 20 minutes), and Fr. Robert Barron on being a priest today!

Friday, October 18, 2013

la ballade des gens heureux

moi en 2012, avant une bénédiction
"comme un chœur dans une cathédrale
comme un oiseau qui fait ce qu'il peut
tu viens de chanter la ballade
la ballade des gens heureux
tu viens de chanter la ballade
la ballade des gens heureux"
(Gérard Lenorman - La Ballade des Gens Heureux, 1975)
pour ceux et celles qui ma trouver grâce à Ginette Gratton Recoit, bienvenue!  je suis l'abbé Jonathan Blake, (UPDATE: 2018-03-02: maintenant curé à la Paroisse Ste-Euphemie, Casselman, et à la Paroisse St-Albert, Saint-Albert,) dans l'Archidiocèse d'Ottawa.  je suis toujours un peu nerveux à la télé, mais merci beaucoup Ginette pour l'invitation!!!  j'ai beaucoup aimer notre temps ensemble.

nous avons jaser de beaucoup de choses:
  • mon chemin de foi:  de Sept-Iles, Qc à Dieu en Jésus Christ;
  • les étapes de la foi:  enfant, ado, adulte
  • la comparaison avec la parabole (Mc 2:1-12) de l’homme paralysé (moi jusqu'à 27ans)
    • svp checké about pour voire pourquoi ça m'a pris 27ans pour être capable de chanter cette chanson.  avant, je chantais la ballade des gens blessé.  je l'a connais toujours, mais maintenant je sais que je suis guéri par Dieu en Jésus Christ
  • la joie d'être chrétien c'est la joie de Jésus, voilà la ballade des gens heureux!
  • les promesses d'obéissance et de chasteté, et vivre la pauvreté évangélique (conseils évangéliques)
  • le rôle du prêtre aujourd'hui
  • mon ministère, ma paroisse et l'Église Universelle
and much more, of course!  so, if you have the chance, please go to your local Rogers TV channel on:

Tuesday, October 22nd, + Saturday, October 26th at 10am, 7pm,+ 11pm, ...

to see the full interview avec Ginette!  i had a great time.  si vous avez des commentaires ou questions, svp laissez-moi savoir!

union de prière.  peace.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Slash's second guitar solo in Estranged, 1994
"when you are talking to yourself,
and nobody's home ...
so nobody ever told you baby
how it was gonna be
so what'll happen to you baby
guess we'll have to wait and see"
(Guns N' Roses - Estranged, 1991)
home from a new spiritual high, i return to where i was - in the clouds for almost five years:  St. Augustine's Seminary.  i remember my five years with joy, overlook the tough parts, and look forward in celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year!

there are two ways to leave the seminary.  both are good!  some men are ordained to the Holy Priesthood.  some are not.  i know many brothers who have chosen other paths, who are holier than some of the clergy.  from our common baptism, is not the universal call to holiness?  indeed, the seminary helps every man to know God better, and to know himself better as well.

as this prophetic song mentions though, nobody tells us how it will be (after ordination, for example), you'll have to wait and see.  however, based everyone's ordination day pictures (a parallel to wedding day pictures) all my brothers are joyful, smiles on their faces, ready to change the world, to transform her, indeed, to save her!
"when i find out all the reasons
maybe i'll find another way
find another day
with all the changing seasons of my life
maybe i'll get it right next time
and now that you've been broken down
got your head out of the clouds
you're back down on the ground
and you don't talk so loud
and you don't walk so proud
any more, and what for ..."
how many people do you know who are estranged:  separated?  or divorced?  marriage annulled? - (the reason Axl gave in writing this power ballad!)  do you know people who are estranged from the Catholic Church?  from God?  and, how many men do you know who have left the priesthood?  humility, is such a difficult thing, a hard lesson!  i know my brothers, when newly ordained, who are walking on cloud nine, some are levitating, others think that bilocation is right around the corner - indeed, we are oozing holiness, we cannot wait to perform our first miracle.  but, priests look for God, just like everyone one else (hopefully).  although it is a difficult lesson indeed:  to think one will change the world, only to realize later that it was i who has been changed.  now you've been broken down, got your head out of the clouds, you're back down on the ground, ... you don't talk so loud, and you don't walk so proud.  but being broken is a good thing, as Leonard Cohen once said.  it is how the light gets in!
seminarians + winter football, 2007?

i look forward in gathering with my brothers this week.  every time i see one of my brother priests - no matter which diocese or religious order, i always try to ask a simple question:  have you found the joy of the priesthood?  understanding that one is not God is a difficult lesson to learn - for newly ordained priests, indeed, for all who have experienced the conversion, of finding joy with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

of course, there are varying answers.  i ask it not in order to compare notes!  God works in my life, in my heart, just as He works in yours.  but it is good to know, to put in to words, why we are happy, or rather, why we are joyful.  that joy is God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  and your priest has given his life to make Him known and loved by all.  as St. Augustine once said, Jesus is our knowledge.  He is our wisdom.  remind your priests that He is their ambition as well:  to know Him better, to love Him more, and to follow Him more closely.

of course, the victory is not ours, but His.  and yet, there is an invitation, and a call.  the zeal of the new evangelization, and helping others know God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  i am in awe, i have no words, to describe the joy which i feel - still only four years after ordination (aka i'm still a baby) - to know that i participate in His mission, the salvation of souls - baptizing them in the name of (into) the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

the seminary helped me on the first step:  knowing God better!  loving Him, and following Him, continues for me as it does for you.  it is not i who saves the world, but God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  on ordination day, the parents give away their son to the Church.  Holy Mother Church receives him with gladness, and presents a new gift to the People of God, a baby priest, who will grow only with your love.

pray for your priests.  peace.

ps.  if the video can end on a happy note - spoiler alert:  Axl is saved by singing dolphins - , how will the rest of your journey go?  we have God Our Father who loves us, and Holy Mother Church that cares for us.  life is good.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

ready to start

"meep, meep" Road Runner
"now you're knocking at my door
saying please come out with us tonight
but i would rather be alone
than pretend i feel alright"
(Tears for Fears - Ready to Start, 2013)
guess what?  chicken butt!  no really, Tears for Fears is coming out with a new album, so i hear!  to celebrate, and to thank music, they decided to cover this Arcade Fire song!  genius, indeed!  i love it!!!

i'm just back from my annual priestly retreat (with ABp), and BAM!  i'm ready to start!  the zeal of the new evagelization, which is always present, is seeking new ways to make itself known!  how do we proclaim God in Our Lord Jesus Christ to a world, to a culture, which is tired, angry, or indifferent?!  let's talk.

i'm always open to suggestions.  indeed, we have a suggestion box in our parish.  here's is my paradox.  some say they want shorter homilies.  others can't get enough.  what is a priest to do?  if my preaching is not short and to the point, people get upset.  if my preaching doesn't say enough, people get upset.  seriously, i am open to your ongoing comments here!!!

however, doesn't it also depend on where people are on their faith journeys?  have they had a conversion?  do they know the love and mercy of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ?

one thing that Michael Dopp, my retreat director, has brought to my attention is the plea to improve the preaching of parish priests, and specifically, how it must proclaim and return to the kerygma:  the preaching of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ!  this changes everything!  indeed, sometimes i would focus on the catechism.  that's great, ... only if you already know Christ.  how about my brothers and sisters who are only now experiencing the joy?  they need things better explained, and more to the point?

the retreat was great!  he focused on the kerygma, through the lens of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, underlined by our call to holiness and to mission.  as my ABp often says, "got faith?  share it!"  our call to holiness is to know and love God.  our mission, then, is to share Him with others!  i'm always looking for new ways, new examples in sharing the Good News.

i'm ready to start, + looking forward to this new year.  we had our first Ottawa Challenge Cursillo exec meeting, and we are already preparing for the retreat in November!  i've already visited école catholique Paul VI, and will be visiting école sécondaire catholique régionale de Hawkesbury in October.  the pastor has already talked about a few things, and i'm ready to start - sooner than later.  who's with me?


ps.  Tears for Fears, followed by Arcade Fire live + Ready to Start:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

bridge over trouble water

Claude Théberge - Cat, 1996?
"when you're down and out
when you're on the street
when evening falls so hard
I will comfort you" (Audrey Assad - Bridge Over Troubled Water, 2013)
this is one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel songs.  and, i am currently enjoying the recently released (a few days?) version by Audrey Assad.  when i played the piano i always wanted to learn this song.  i'm not sure what i love most, the words or music.  the words are consoling, the piano hypnotizing.

it is good to be consoled, to find consolation with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  in searching for that equilibrium though, we often lose our balance in life (paradox).  that is true of our brother priests as well.  next week - Monday to Friday - the English priests of the Archdiocese of Ottawa will be away on retreat.  i will be joining them.

but what about ministry, schools, meetings, the Sacraments?  when the Missionaries of Charity sisters complained to Mother Teresa mentioning there was too much work to do, what was her reaction?  "there is too much to do, OK, another hour of prayer then!"  like a friend reminded me the other day, it is important to find time to pray:  a moment of silence during the day, one day a week, a weekend a month, and even a week a year.  balance, it does soul + body good.  also, Canon Law tells me, encourages me strongly to take an annual retreat.

i look forward to this retreat.  our retreat master will be none another than my friend Michael Dopp, he founded The Mission of the Redeemer Ministries, a new ministry, at the service of the Church, committed in forming Catholics in the new evangelization!  however, before sharing the Good News, one has to live and experience the Good News, to pray, to be consoled, comforted by God.  we cannot always be on the high of proclaiming the Good News, but we must also encounter Him in the darkness, when pain is all around.  God doesn't always work as we would like Him too.  i am reminded of this truth in a book that i am now reading for the second time:
"one of the basic unrealities of most accounts of the inner journey is that they avoid discussing the almost intolerable difficulties we often encounter on this heroic way.  the chapter, 'Serpents and Devils in the Shadows' should be required reading for all spiritual guides and those who venture inward.  the darkness is real, and those prepared to meet it have the best chance of passing through the abyss successfully." (Spiritual Pilgrims:  Carl Jung + Teresa of Avila)
along with my Bible, this will be part of my spiritual reading for the week.  one cannot just simply stay on spiritual cloud nine.  one has to dig deeper at times.  i enjoy the stories have how saints, brothers and sisters succeed.  but don't we need to know how they struggled as well?  indeed, how they overcame obstacles!  it seems that we'd rather stay in the light, then really look at the darkness.  however, God works in both, and to omit one would be, ... ?

"don't work too hard".  i've been saying that all my life, to everyone and to anyone i met.  i think i may have had it wrong.  i think i should say, "work hard", yes, "but for Him."  if i work hard for myself, it'll never be enough.  if i work hard for Him, well, ... that changes everything!

pray for your parish priests.  peace.

ps:  the video, Bridge Over Troubled Water, by Audrey Assad:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

can't hug every cat

Claude Théberge - Cat, 1996?
"sorry, i'm being emotional
i love cats
i love every kind of cat
i just want to hug all them
but i can't, i can't hug every cat
i am a cat lover, and i love to run."
(Schmoyoho - Can't Hug Ever Cat, 2011)
is it bad that i enjoy this video, a lot?  hello, my name is Fr. Jonathan Blake, and i love cats, i love every kind of cat.  yep, i'm a little emotional.  i had two cats growing up - Pantouffle, + Noisette.  my mom has, had, will have cats.  my sister has cats.  i look forward in visiting friends who have cats!  i know priests who have cats in the rectory!  i love cats, i love every kind of cat.  and i want to hug all them.  i just love them!
"i think about how cute they are, ...
and how their ears,
and the whiskers and the nose, ...
i just love them!"
wow!  but there is the problem!  i am allergic.  quite, actually.  yet, throughout junior + high school i managed.  today, i'm not quite sure, and there is the paradox.  i love cats, but i can't touch them, or i will die. :(  i've been singing this ditty in my head for a while, and i'm not the only one who has a love-hate relationship with cats.

as you can see, Claude Théberge, the painter, surely has an obsession.  but we are in good company, since Jim Davis is like me too - allergic!  he loved them so much that he created Garfield!  that's right!  i just blew your mind, i know.  no probs!

that's it.  i just want to be on the record, that i love cats, i love every kind of cat!


Monday, September 09, 2013


Norman Rockwell - Look Ma, 1958
"your temperament's wrong for the priesthood
and teaching would suit you still less
son, be a dentist you'll be a success"
(Little Shop Of Horrors - Dentist!, 1986)
i am now home safe and sound.  of course, why would i not be?  i went to the dentist today.  back in the day i had braces for over two years!  i even had the much-loved retainer before that!  every time i went to the dentist, it meant pain!  inhumane pain.  they would tighten those braces and i couldn't eat for weeks!  and just as things got better, back to the dentist i went.  i remember Dad singing to me - brush your teeth - by Raffi!  once is ok, but more than that it adds to the pain.  our family, today, cannot talk about brushing teeth without a smirk.  not only because of the joy of that song, but also because it was slightly annoying to one and all.

so, today, things are better!  there i am sitting on the chair (pic from last time;  Doc loved it!) chit chatting away - as much as one can - and thinking about God.  the theology of dentistry!  indeed, parallels are everywhere, seeing God in all things, even in the pain and trials of cleaning teeth.  then there is always that one question that i dread:
"have you been flossing?"
ah, um, maybe?  of course, they can tell!  "Doctor, forgive me, for it has been 6 months since i last flossed."  he knows before i even utter the words!  how can they tell?  they just know!

anywho, back to the theology of dentistry.  two things.  you can understand why some people do not like going to the denstist.  they had a bad experience, which forever taints new experiences!  unfortunately, the same is true with our Faith, and some priests.  we know people who have had bad experiences in the past.  some continue to struggle today because of those very experiences.

today, i enjoy going to my dentist.  he his a joyful man, including all his staff.  he makes the experience - even of flossing - good times.  indeed, that is where dentistry is going i am sure - the joy of teeth!  i do not forget the difficulty of braces so many years ago, but i have a new way of looking at dentistry, and the people working in it.  same with our Faith, and my brother priests today.  my brother priests work hard to spread the Gospel, the joy of God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  we all may have had difficult experiences with our Faith, but God continues to invite us deeper in that personal relationship.

finally, they were cleaning my teeth today removing this and that stain.  they worked hard - with jackhammer + sandblaster, and all!  sometimes those stains are tough ones to get out.  isn't it the same with some of our sins?  which ones are tough to get out?  and, why is that?  bad habits, vices?  what have i done, or not done - flossing - that has left such a stain on my heart, that are obstacles to my journey of holiness?  and, what do we do now to get it out?  Crest - toothpaste - might work each and everyday, but we still need the Doctor.  prayer - relationship with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ - is important each and everyday, and He invites still deeper through Holy Mother Church, and the priests for the Sacraments, and of course, the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  priests need one another as well, since i cannot hear my own confession.

i always leave the dentist office thinking i'm going to brush well, and floss everyday.  i leave the confessional, thinking i will never sin again.  the journey is upward and forward.  that is holiness.  i have another appointment with the Dentist in March.  we still need to make time for confession.  when?  that is between you and God.  if you see me, make me accountable for flossing.  if you see me, make me accountable for holiness!


ps:  two videos:  1) Raffi on brushing of one's teeth, and 2) Little Shop of Horrors and Steve Martin as the Dentist!  caution, warning!  do not watch the video, if you are scared of dentistry. :) no wonder i have bad memories, ...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

welcome to the jungle

Chris Jones - First day of school, 2013

"welcome to the jungle,
we've got fun and games"
(Guns N' Roses - Welcome to the Jungle, 1987)
i miss blogging, i really do.  i haven't been here in a while, i know.  have mercy on me.  as the wheels on the bus go up and down, so does life.

my last post was back in June, graduation and the end of the school year for many.  now, it seems right to post something new at the start of a new school and pastoral year!

that kid in the picture, ... was, is, and might forever be me!  anywho, we can talk more about that later, maybe after you treat me to a nice beverage?

school is never over.  we are always learning.  learning hopefully to make the right choices.  i always thought that if the teacher only taught -- insert subject here --, then they have failed at their job.  teaching is not only about a subject, but about life!  have you ever gone back to your school years later to thank a teacher?  what exactly do we thank them for?  i remember going back to Moncton High School, Quispamsis Junior High School, + Elementary, Notre-Dame Elementary School (now closed), years back thanking a few of my favourite teachers.  sometimes i forget what they taught me, but of course, they taught me much more!  i do not need to name movies based on all of this, it has become a stereotype now.  but it is good to say thanks! and obvious is the need for good teachers ( + priests).
"welcome to the jungle it gets worse here every day
ya learn to live like an animal in the jungle where we play
if you hunger for what you see you'll take it eventually
you can have everything you want but you better not take it from me"
as the #backtoschool French article discusses (indeed a great commentary on the above picture), it will also be on the school bus that children learn many things.  indeed, some may find or loose Faith.  as the GNR song goes, if all we learn is multiple choice, and forget about living life, we become animals.  it will become a jungle out there if we have no roots, and it will bring us to our knees.  on my mind lately is the lack of direction from these so called Quebec Values charter, the violence in different countries, our homes, and parishes, and now the Frosh Week scandals at St. Mary's University (SMU) in Halifax.  what exactly are we learning in our schools, parishes, homes?
"the Instagram video is embarrassing to St. Mary’s University, but it should embarrass Canadian society in general.  It’s time that we realized that healing our culture will take more than decades of ‘no means no’ campaigns. Pro-lifers realize this. So welcome to another school year (welcome to the jungle).  We have work to do."  (NCLN, 2013)

so, now what?  choose, but choose wisely (à la Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  -- (reflection EN, FR via Salt & Light) -- we must choose God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  He becomes the foundation of our lives.  indeed, he is the only orientation and direction needed!  He is the game changer.  He changes everything!

we have been invited by our Holy Father today to pray for peace in Syria.  we seek peace in our world, in countries, in our families, parishes, and in our hearts.  one thing is fo sho:  the road towards peace always begins in prayer.  in this new school and pastoral year, let's choose God, and He will give us His peace.  seek to know Him better.  love Him more.  follow Him more closely.  remember, we are in the jungle, but not of the jungle.

over and out.  werd.

ps.  SMU's apology for the frosh week jungle.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

a whole new world

ESCRH 2012
"Aladdin:  you want to see the world?
Jasmine:  is it safe?
Aladdin:  do you trust me?
Jasmine:  Yes?!"
a few words for my brothers and sisters graduating this year, ... it is a whole new world!  especially for those over at ESCRH!  i have been invited to say the first word at the celebration tomorrow night:  the prayer, of course!  i have been thinking of what to say and remember watching Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo's Commencement Speech a few weeks ago:
looking at his smartphone, he continues ... "When I was your age, we didn't have the Internet in our pants. We didn't even have the Internet not in our pants. That's how bad it was. I sound like my grandfather. 'We didn't have teeth! There were no questions marks, we just had words!'"
although i only have a few seconds, maybe a couple minutes, therefore my fav song from one of my fav Disney Movies:

a whole new world:
  • open your eyes
  • a new fantastic point of view
  • a dazzling place i never knew
  • unbelievable sights
  • indescribable feelings
  • i've come so far i can't go back
  • every turn a surprise
  • new horizons
  • let me share this whole new world with You
  • a wondrous place, for You and me.
  • a fantastic voyage
Aladdin and Jasmine sang it best, and Twitter CEO did ok too.  congrats to you all.  to everyone graduating from one important step of life to another.
"Not only can you not plan the impact you're going to have, you often won't recognize it when you're having it…The impact is what others frame for you and the world after it happens. The present is only what you're experiencing and focused on right now…You cannot draw that path looking forward. You cannot draw any of your paths looking forward. You have to figure out what you love to do, what you have conviction about, and go do that." - Dick Costolo
finally, the first word, and the last, goes to God:
"When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; ..." Lk 12:11 
"When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; ..." Mt 10:19 
"When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit." Mk 13:11